What Is the Wisdom behind Hijab, and Is It Practical to Avoid Looking at Women’s Hair Outside?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


We see women without the head cover, so their hair is shown. We see them in TV shows, documentaries, the news channel. In the restaurant, a waitress may not have a head cover. A teacher may not have a head cover, and a classmate may not – as I’m explaining the reason the hijab is obligatory in Islam, i.e., that modesty is necessary due to our biological creation.

This only applies to the hijab, as 82% of men believe that sexy hair is a key component of a woman’s appeal; according to numerous studies, but it does not apply to the niqab.

What should be the logic behind this? It seems impractical to say it’s haram to look at women’s hair.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

Please have a look at the following links for answers to your questions.

The Rulings of Looking

It is prohibited to look at any part of a marriageable person (aside from one’s spouse) that is considered nakedness (‘Awra). This includes the hair of a marriageable woman. Furthermore, it is strictly prohibited to look at any part of any person other than one’s spouse with lust. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

After understanding the above, we must understand two things:

  1. These are rulings ordained by Allah and His Messenger (may Allah bless him and give him peace).
    Like many of the rulings of the Sacred Law, there may be perceivable wisdom behind this ruling. One could argue many such wisdoms. One wisdom is that Islam takes a realistic approach to human lust.
    It forbids anything that may lead to illicit relations between people, which is the source of many of the social disasters of today. But it also gives a permissible alternative through marriage.
    Regardless of which wisdom one chooses to understand this ruling, the most important thing to remember is that Allah Most High sent us the Sacred Law through His Beloved Messenger (may Allah bless him and give him peace) for the benefit of every individual ever created.
  2. Knowledge of this leads to submission to Divine discretion.
    As Allah Most High says,
    “Your Lord creates and chooses whatever He wills—the choice is not theirs. Glorified and Exalted is Allah above what they associate (with Him)!
    And your Lord knows what their hearts conceal and what they reveal. He is Allah. There is no god (worthy of worship) except Him. All praise belongs to Him in this life and the next. All authority is His. And to Him you will (all) be returned.” [Quran; 28:68-70]

One Rule For Everyone

Whether one is attracted to hair, face, or both, the Sacred Law covers all bases. It sets limits that assist humans in taking control of their desires, so they can focus on their souls and transcend their animalistic nature. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Allah Most High has commanded that the female’s hair be covered, yet her face may show. She may choose to cover her face as a further measure of modesty. Thereafter the ownness is on others to guard their gaze. [Ibid.]

The Difference Between Looking and Seeing

One is only accountable for what they look at intentionally, and/or what they come to see are carried on looking at intentionally.

One’s peripheral vision is not within one’s ability to control in most cases, and therefore it is excused. So if one is in school or at work and they must look at their teacher or colleague who may be uncovered – if they limit their gaze to areas that are permitted, like the face, they are not accountable for a peripheral vision of the hair. [Ibid.]

Again this is on the condition that there is no lust or fear of lust. In which case, one must turn their gaze aside.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.